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Thursday, February 21, 2019

Neuroscientist In Recovery Sheds Light On Addiction

Neuroscience is a fascinating field of study; the findings that derive from research on the mind can save lives. Those who dedicate their careers to developing a more concise understanding of how the brain works, help others find solutions to some science's most puzzling questions. The study of mental illness is no exception. Those in recovery, who began their journey in treatment, have benefited from advancements in neuroscience.

Naturally, taking the requisite steps to become a neuroscientist is a monumental task. Years of education is necessary before one can proudly put the letters PhD behind his or her name. So, those who choose to go into the field, require steadfast dedication to seeing their goal realized. It is also fair to say that people who become qualified to study and provide guidance to patients about mental disease need to steer clear of distractions.

Today, hundreds of millions of people around the globe struggle with mental illness like depression and substance use disorders. But, there are only a handful of individuals studying mental health disorders; and, there is an infinitesimally small number of neuroscientists with personal experience with mental diseases. One such example of the latter is behavioral neuroscientist and professor of psychology, Judith Grisel.

Professor Grisel’s experience with drugs and alcohol, beginning at a young age, was the impetus for her interest in the neuroscience of addiction. Not only is Grisel working to understand better how drugs and alcohol affect the brain, but she can also serve as an inspiration for all those who have struggled or still struggle with addiction.


Never Enough: The Neuroscience and Experience of Addiction

Judith Grisel’s primary focus is on determining the root causes of drug addiction. She teaches psychology at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. She is a renowned behavioral neuroscientist and she is also in recovery. In her new book, Never Enough: The Neuroscience and Experience of Addiction, she draws from her decades of research and personal battle with substance use disorder to give readers a better understanding of how addiction happens.

Professor Grisel spoke about her life, work, and the book on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross recently. She explains that after experiencing her first bout of drunkenness at the age of 13, her life changed in more ways than one. Like other people who had a profound first experience with a mind-altering substance, she struggled in the following years.

"It was so complete and so profound," she told NPR. "I suddenly felt less anxious, less insecure, less inept to cope with the world. Suddenly I was full and OK in a way that I had never been." 

With more than 30 years clean and sober, Grisel continues to light the road to recovery for people still “out there.” Her work is also helping policymakers make more informed decisions regarding a field of medicine that is largely misunderstood.

"I'm always interested in the mechanisms of things," she said. "And when I heard that I had a disease, I kind of felt naturally that that would have a biological basis, and I figured that I could study that biological basis and understand it and then maybe fix it."

If you have the time, listen to the interview; it may be enlightening:

If you are having trouble listening, please click here.


Addiction Treatment

Please contact The Haven at Pismo if you are in the grips of addiction or a co-occurring mental disorder. Our team of highly trained professionals relies on evidence-based practices to provide medically supervised and top-quality care. We help men and women recover from alcohol or substance use disorder. The Haven is the perfect place to renew to your best today.